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Archive for June, 2015

President Koroma and other MRU leaders sign communique on Ebola in Guinea

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

On Sunday June 28, 2015, the leaders of the Mano River Union (MRU) concluded the 3rd Extraordinary Summit on Ebola held in the Guinean capital, Conakry. A communique was issued at the end of the summit, re-emphasizing that the current top priority remains the achievement of resilient zero infections in Guinea and Sierra Leone, revitalising of health care delivery systems, restoring livelihoods and revamping the economies of the three worst affected countries.

Presidents Dr Ernest Bai Koroma (Sierra Leone), Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (Liberia), Professor Alpha Konde (Guinea) as well as Mr. Charles Koffi Diby, Senior Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, representing Ivorian President Allassane Ouattara also agreed on the sub-regional Post-Ebola socio-economic recovery programme against the background of the upcoming UN Pledging Conference in New York on July 9 – 10, 2015.



This follows the MRU Ministerial Meeting held in Conakry on June 20 and 21, 2015, which reviewed and validated the consistency between the sub-regional programme and national recovery plans. The MRU Ministerial Meeting also approved the financing and implementation arrangements for those programmes, and lastly, provided guidance to resource mobilisation.

In the just concluded summit, the Heads of State and Government of the MRU declared that the conclusions and recommendations of the Ministerial Meeting held in Conakry on 20th – 21st June 2015 were in place. They also adopted the priorities and costs of the sub-regional and Ebola Recovery Programme, as well as the Institutional and Financing Framework. This is to ensure effective implementation to returning the worst affected Member States to normalcy and resilience.

The Head of States also noted with satisfaction the remarkable progress both in the drastic reduction of infections and the end of Ebola in Liberia. They committed themselves to achieving resilient zero infections in Guinea and Sierra Leone.
The leaders also reiterated deep appreciation to the International community for its unwavering support to the affected Member States in the fight against the disease. They also urged for continued engagement.

Earlier this year, development partners in Brussels and Washington made commitments to support the three worst affected countries for the post-Ebola recovery. In reference to that commitment, the Heads of MRU called on key partners, in particular, the African Development Bank, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Union to join the UN Secretary General at the highest level during the upcoming July 10th Pledging Conference in New York.
Taking into consideration the urgent need to pursue Post-Ebola socio-economic recovery of the worst affected MRU Member States, the leaders adopted, among other things, the following:

- (1) Two-year sub-regional and national priorities for ease of implementation. The sub-regional plan is clustered into two levels: level one is estimated at US$ 1.76 billion, focusing on (a) health, water, sanitation and hygiene; (b) governance, peace and security; (c) agriculture, fisheries and food security; (d) gender, youth and social protection; (e) programme management and monitoring, and (f) private sector development.

- Level two estimated at US$ 2.24 billion focused on (a) sub-regional roads, (b) energy access; and (c) information and communication technology.

- MRU Heads of States further reaffirmed their call for the establishment of a single MRU Consolidated Ebola Recovery Trust Fund (CERTF), with allocation and disbursement arrangements to be determined by the MRU in consultation with partners.

- Furthermore, the leaders of the MRU appealed to all countries not just to lift restrictions against Liberia which is now free from the disease, but also resume immediately their flights in the MRU sub-region.

- The communique expressed condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones due to the Ebola virus and paid special tribute to health personnel who died in the service of their compatriots.


Honourable Victor Foh is the quintessential survivor

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

I had known about and observed the Honourable Vice President Victor Foh (pictured) for over 30 years since my days as a young university student and as a journalist in Freetown, Sierra Leone. And now as an online newspaper publisher in Canada with a global readership and reputation.

The man has always been attacked and hated by some people, mostly because of his affiliation with the ruling APC from the days of the founder of the party, the late Dr. Siaka Stevens to the current dispensation.

If you investigate why Foh is hated so much by some of his brothers in the south and east of the country, it’s mainly because of politics. If Foh had been a strong SLPP activist, there would have been not hatred for him; he will be a hero in the south and east of the country. I must hasten to point out that not everybody in the south and east hate him. He comes from a huge well known family in the south (Jimmy Bagbor) and has more relatives and friends in the SLPP than the APC although he is at the same time very popular in the north. His wife is from the north and many northerners see him as one of them, a tried and tested APC man despite his origins.

Another reason he is hated by some southerners and easterners in the SLPP is because he has offered effective advice to the ruling government on how to bring into the APC fold people from the south and east, thus creating what now looks like a government of national unity. We now have lots of ministers, deputy ministers, and all sorts of public servants including army and police personnel from the south and east serving their country in very prominent positions. Victor Foh has a lot to do with that. It’s therefore not surprising that many SLPP activists want to bring him down. He is a threat to their party and a boon to the APC which is gaining support in SLPP strongholds not just through development projects but also by actively involving their brothers and sisters in the south and east in the business of governance. As it should be in any country that wants to move forward. All hands should be on deck.

Given Victor Foh’s role in garnering support for his beloved APC, I was not surprised when filthy and unholy attacks were recently directed towards him on social media through obnoxious photo-shopping and other practices.

But the people that did that seem to underestimate Victor Foh’s strength of character. The man has survived worse attacks, the most memorable being when he was saved from the jaws of death, while awaiting execution, from a death sentence ordered by the former SLPP government, some members of which are now his closest friends.

Victor Foh is the quintessential survivor in Sierra Leone politics, guys.

Photo manipulation : The new norm for immorality and profanity in politics ?

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
By Akmid Mansaray 

The SLPP party surrogates or so called  "Concern Sierra Leoneans ..." who may have
doctored VP Victor Foh's image into such a degrading object and self-defeating
symbol, are on the  wrong side of politics and perhaps history.


The manipulated portrait of Vice President Victor Foh making the the rounds on
social media is absolutely appalling. There is no reason for any one, especially
a Sierra Leonean, to indulge in such a reckless display of artistry. 

Most africans, Sierra Leoneans included unfortunately are beginning to buy into the
supposed freedom they claim the west offers: the freedom to disrespect their
leaders or even throw things like eggs at them. What these believers don't
recognize is the prize that comes with such lousiness. Most of those who commit
civil disorders in the west are penalized and sometimes left to perish  on the
fringes of societies. 

Also, It is true that african and oriental cultures do
not encourage outright disrespect of their leaders for whatever reason, Even
though youths and most of all disgruntled politicians are now resorting to
jungle escapism, what they think is the norm in western societies is not that
normal: most advance countries monitor their subjects through surveillances.
They openly condemn the immoral actions of their citizens and penalize them for
what they do label as maverick. Why was someone in America arraigned in court
for  threatening President Barrack Obama...? Like l always will say freedom is
not as free as the west make us believe. It is therefore  unfortunate to see
through social media, much seem to be silently taking away from the positive
growth and development of most african societies. Someday soon, I think
countries like Sierra Leone would become such a moral decadent, there may be no
use for the department of attitudinal change.

No matter what others' beliefs are, I do know the APC government is disproportionately bearing the brunt of the
raw vulgarism and immoral creativity that is becoming the usual for most
disgruntled political activists who will use any means at their disposal to
sprout hatred or bitterness upon the powers that be.

Photo shopping I know serves a great purpose for designers and entertainers who would concoct photos
of characters, situations and sceneries and make them look believable,
interesting and and above all purposeful. Unfortunately, this artistry is now
being used by politicians especially to demean opponents in creative but ugly
ways. There seem less or no regard left for the dignity and privacy of

Before now, photo manipulations were mostly positive. With this out
of control social media era, emphasis has shifted to making photoshopping a tool
for personal vendetta and creative deception, nudity and dangerous politicking. 
Social and political "bastardization" seems so rampant with african sites
especially, it may soon awash the faints, making then believe lying  is a virtue
and political correctness is better than the truths and realities of our

During the Wake of the alleged Ebola corruption and the constitutional
debate in Sierra Leone that followed the removal from office of then Veep Sam
Sumana, most people believed the SLPP party was behind the recruiting of  "low
calibered"  IT professionals living in the diaspora, to demean the presidency of
His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, a ploy believed will benefit their "
movement." I hope they are wrong. There were so many doctored postings online
that portrayed President Koroma as a miserable evil ...

The government and people of Sierra Leone deserve the right to moderate social and political
excesses as long such actions are true to the Sierra Leone constitution. Is an
act of parliament necessary to stop wicked or evil attitudes against especially
public servants and politicians? Bad behavior should not be rewarded nor be
condoned out of fear. It may be time, parliament enacted measures  that can
restrain those who conduct themselves poorly on social media at the detriment of
others. Why do do Asian countries moderate social media excesses? Why should
Sierra Leone not take legitimate steps to protecting its own people from social
abuses. I believe It is within the right and power of a government  to regulate
excesses that can undermine the peace and stability of a nation. Of course
governments in all countries have the right to national security and to advance
the socio-political development of their nations.

Mind you I remain your best friend. Therefore please allow me to ask this question: are you interested more
in character assassination or nation building?

Esse quam videri
(Rather to
be than to


Utilizing Local Governance in Post Ebola Recovery Drive

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

John Baimba Sesay-China

With the country apparently bringing an end to its Ebola chapter, a post Ebola Recovery Strategy document could not have come at the right time, given the lessons we have learnt; how the virus and its outbreak affected not only state governance, but brought to light the challenges in the health sector of the affected nations, and also, most importantly but sadly, killed thousands of our compatriots. Also, the leadership, especially at the political level, provided so far by Sierra Leone and the support of the country’s development partners and friendly nations like China should come to mind when issues surrounding post Ebola recovery are discussed.


The sub regional response has so far been phenomenal, with the three presidents of the most affected nations recently meeting in Guinea. Sierra Leone’s president Koroma has so far been commended for his national response to the outbreak, given that this is first in the history of the country and it came when not prepared for, or anticipated.

In one year, we now have come to terms with the need to build functional, strong and workable National Systems for Resilience and Sustainable Development. This is especially so, because, the Ebola virus came with a huge challenge to not just Sierra Leone’s socio- economic activities, many believe, it has also presented us with opportunities towards building better institutions for effective service delivery.

The need for a pliant country health system cannot be downplayed. Crucially,  even the Post Ebola Recovery document does make clear, that such a resilient heath care system could, amongst others, require: “a) Formulation and implementation of a standalone Public Health Master Plan to emphasize the preventive aspect of healthcare delivery systems; b) Restoration of sanitary (and compound) officials and inspectors across the country within the framework of an established and/or well capacitated Directorate for Environmental Sanitation and Hygiene that is fully decentralized.

It also, rightly so, requires “promotion of in-country postgraduate medical education to increase professional hours in the medical and healthcare system; and d) Establishing a centre for the control of infectious diseases that is well staffed and equipped; training hundreds of doctors in specialized areas, including pediatricians, dermatologists, eye specialists and tropical disease specialists; and training a large number of midwives, surgeons and specialists in non-communicable diseases.”

Local ownership is vital here. This is because we are talking about those communities that are affected not just by the virus, but whom at the end, shall be primary benefactors of whatever development initiatives could be embarked upon. This is where the issue of deepening the devolution process comes into play.

Acceptably, we could ensure an effective and strengthened decentralized service delivery systems, structures and processes, and empowering the community to foster trust, by properly making use of the revamped Inter-Ministerial Committee on Decentralization. Recently resuscitated and re-energized by the current Vice President, this committee is a vital conduit and a key Governance and Coordinating Agent for Decentralization and Local Government.

The 19 Local Councils across the country- from Bonthe to Pujehun, Kailahun, Moyamba, Western Area Rural District, Bombali, Kambia, Port Loko, et el should now be fully capacitated to ensure those lessons learnt during the Ebola epidemic are fully studied and addressed, and structures put in place that could help in mitigating a reoccurrence of the virus. The devolution and decentralisation processes could be of strategic importance in addressing those challenges and in the full implementation of the post Ebola plan.  Council officials, Councilors and representatives of people in our parliament should work collectively in engaging the localities in whatever drive that is being undertaken.  This should not just be left in the hands of central government but the collective support of every Sierra Leonean is needed.


Emirates distributes Ramadan food

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015


By: – Alhaji Mohamed Wusha-Conteh

In a bid to assist Muslims of Sierra Leone go through the Month of Ramadan in peace and with the provision of food stuffs, Three (3) Humanitarian Organizations: Khalifa Bin Zayed Foundation, Red Crescent of UAE and Dubai Charity Association based in the United Arab Emirate has distributed 45 tons of food stuffs consisting of Rice, Cooking Oil and Sugar to the Muslim Population of Sierra Leone worth 150 Million Leones.

In his address, the Representative in the Embassy of the United Arab Emirate to Sierra Leone with residence in Senegal, Mohamed Turay expressed his heartfelt sympathy on behalf of the Ambassador and People of the United Arab Emirates, as Sierra Leone is going through one of the worst times in its history with the deadly Ebola Virus. He prayed that the Ebola Virus will soon be eradicated and called on the people to continue to adhere to the messages of the Health Authorities.



Mr. Turay disclosed that the food stuff will be distributed in the Western Area, Kenema, Kailahun and Kono in the Eastern Province in Sierra Leone. He thanked Sheikh Abu Bakarr Conteh, Sheikh Ishmail Koroma and Sheikh Abass Conteh for their support in distributing items sent judiciously to various Mosques, Institutions and the poor and needy people in the Western Area.

In his Address, Sheikh Abu Bakarr Conteh thanked the donors based in the United Arab Emirates for their usual assistance to the people of Sierra Leone as they observe the Month of Ramadan. He maintained that citizens are going through the fasting period in faith, as things are really hard for them as some don’t even have provision to go through the Month of Ramadan.

Sheikh Conteh cited several verses in the Holy Quran which stressed the importance of feeding fasting Muslims and prayed that Allah provide for the donors so that they will continue their humanitarian gesture in Sierra Leone as this is the fourth year they are giving out such generous assistance. He stressed that since the food distributed will not be enough to feed the entire population in the Western Area they usually rotate beneficiaries every year so that they will target the entire Mosques and Institutions in the Country.

In his Vote of thanks, Sheikh Musa Mansaray thanked the donors for their humanitarian assistance and prayed for them to continue their generous activities throughout the country. He maintained that the people of Sierra Leone are very grateful for their intervention as the Ebola Crisis has not only affected several sectors in the country, but has also affected the livelihood of the people.

Sheikh Mansaray also prayed for Allah’s provision for the donors so that they will triple their assistance in the country as it is badly needed. He thanked the representative of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, Mohamed Turay, for his sacrifice in coming to deliver the assistance sent by donors, for without his supervisory role, the country would not have benefitted from such a donation.

The ceremony ended with prayers for the donors by various Imams and was climaxed with the distribution of 580 – 25Kg bags of Rice, 580 One gallon oil and 580 – 5Kg Sackets of Sugar.



MOHS Gets Newly State Certified Midwives to Fight Maternal and Newborn Mortality

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015


Freetown, June 29, 015 (MOHS) – The National School of Midwifery has held its Graduation and Prize-Giving Ceremony with 27 professional State Certified Midwives of set Twenty-nine.



The newly State Certified Midwives taking their oath

Delivering the keynote address at the Miatta Conference Centre in Freetown, Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Madam Madina Rahman described the event as a special day for the human resource health sector, communities and families.



Deputy Minister II, Madam Madina Rahman delivering her keynote address

She reminded the graduands that their role as midwives is a position of trust to making delivery safe.

Madam Rahman described them as an important catalyst for quality health care and for the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality which is a top priority in the President’s Agenda for Prosperity. She reiterated that the needs and healthy growth of women and children is a priority to the government and encouraged the newly State Certified Midwives to take the challenge in making the desired impact.

The Free Health Care Initiative the Deputy Minister said was launched to solve the problem of the vulnerable women and children, and most importantly to reduce the unacceptable maternal infant and newborn mortality rates in the country. She said the task is a global challenge but with the renewed spirit, roles and responsibility she is optimistic that we would make the difference.

The Ebola outbreak, the Deputy minister said had its impact on the human resource capacity in the health sector, leaving a gap and reiterated government’s plan and commitment for the training of more midwives as well as providing a safe and conducive healthy environment in all hospitals and peripheral health units.

Madam Rahman lauded the Principal and staff for the hard work and congratulated the graduands for being successful throughout their exams. She reminded them of their responsibility to be ready to work in their various deployed duty stations and to give their best.

Making his statement, the Assistant UNFPA Representative, Ibrahim Sahr Kamara observed that increasing access to health has been a human right issue noting the importance for the survival of the mother and the baby in their role as midwives.



Assistant UNFPA Country Representative, Mr. Ibrahim Sahr Kamara

He said the role of the Midwife has increased over the years with added responsibility on postnatal care, labour, delivery and clinical care.

Mr. Kamara opined that concerted efforts are needed to address institutional delivery, the use of contraceptives, and the root causes of hemorrhage, among other causes.

He said Sierra Leone has made progress on the MDG 5 as evident in the UN critical indicator but that the challenge continues to achieve the desired goal.

Mr. Kamara encouraged the graduands to rise up and cope with the challenges ahead with a view to making the impact of their training felt.

He reiterated UNFPA continued support to the School as well as plans to assist the Nurses and Midwives Board to make it a more viable institution.

Congratulating the newly certified midwives, Mr. Kamara described their certificates as an instrument of high value, and implored them to be committed and dedicated to duty.

Giving the School’s Report for the period under review (2013-2015), the Principal, National School of Midwifery, Dr. Joan Elizabeth Estella Shepherd said the key mandate of the National School of Midwifery is the training of Midwives and Obstetric Nurses for Sierra Leone to work at various levels of care. Midwives as we know are critical for the survival of mothers and newborns. Dr. Shepherd opined.



Principal, National Scholl of Midwifery, Dr. Joan Elizabeth Estella Shepherd

The School’s Mission Statement, Dr. Shepherd said aims at producing competent and skilled professionals in Midwifery practice setting who can function at various levels of care towards reduction of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. She added that it’s also aimed at ensuring that student midwives are fully equipped to meet the challenges of their career, whilst at the same time offering quality reproductive services to women, children and communities as a whole.

On the professional status, Dr. Shepherd said the school is legally recognized locally and internationally and governed by the Nurses and Midwives Board of Sierra Leone.

The Ministry of Health, she said continues its support to the National School of Midwifery through the provision of Government subvention in a form of grant. She told her audience that the school as an implementing partner under the Women’s Cluster Group also continues to receive support from UNFPA as a major donor with a view to increasing the number of midwives trained in the country.

She said through support from UNFPA, the Curriculum of the Midwifery School and student workbook and relevant tools would be revised soon in consultation with the Nurses and Midwives Board.

Commenting on major challenges, Dr. Shepherd stated that a new school building and the necessary infrastructural development are therefore urgently needed for expansion of the training program to include all necessary facilities for a training institution, and advocated for the provision of additional vehicles to undertake supportive supervision and monitoring.

In her words, the Deputy Chief Nursing Officer, Matron Fatmata Mansaray told her audience that the services of Midwives started since the beginning of history in giving birth.



Deputy Chief Nursing Officer, Matron Haja Fatmata Mansaray

She expressed concern over the gaps for Midwives in the health facilities, pointing out that most of the deliveries are done by MCH Aides and some, by Traditional Birth Attendants.

Matron Fatmata Mansaray applauded the graduands and admonished them to demonstrate proficiency and dedication to service.

“Money is a motivation but patriotism and nationalism should take the lead”, opined the Deputy Chief Nursing Officer.

The President, West African College of Nursing, Mrs. Amelia Gabba said midwives care is the most effective to reach MDGs 4 and 5 indicators.



President, West African College of Nursing, Mrs. Amelia Gabba

Sierra Leone she said, needed midwives ever than before with equitable distribution to achieve the desired goal within the frame work of the free health care initiative and the Agenda for prosperity.

She calls for the urgent deployment of the midwives to various duty stations, and encouraged them to promote excellence and standards at all level.

Among the students that were given special awards in the form of cash and trophies were Best Student for Introductory, Victoria Kamara, Best Student for Hospital  Final, Gifty Florence Massaquoi, Best Student for State Final, Victoria Meau, and the award for Students with Unique Qualities include Josephine Sesay, Finda Kpangay, Florence Musa and Victoria Kamara.



Head of the Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, Dr. Ernest Surur

The Head of the Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, Dr. Ernest Surur, and the Chairman for the occasion, former Director of Nursing Services, Matron Marina John also made meaningful contributions during the ceremony.



A cultural traditional scene from the Students’ skit

A short play by 2nd Year Student Midwives Set 30, and cultural performances by the Sierra Leone National Dance Troupe formed part of the ceremony.


President Koroma off to Guinea

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone – President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma left Freetown early Sunday morning, June 28, 2014 to participate in a one-day Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Mano River Union (MRU) in the Guinean capital, Conakry.

The summit will look at the sub-regional post-Ebola socio-economic plan and come up with a joint communique to that effect.

Presidents Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and host Professor Alpha Conde, will engage on the way forward to getting especially Guinea and Sierra Leone to zero Ebola infections for 42 days.

On arrival in Conakry, President Koroma was received at the airport by Guinea’s President, Professor Alpha Conde and officials of government.

arrival in Guinea


arrival in Guinea 5


arrival in Guinea 2


arrival in Guinea 4



Mammy Dumbuya at the White House

Sunday, June 28th, 2015


Serra Leone’s eminent religious leader and humanitarian, Apostle Dora Dumbuya , was last Wednesday given the stupendous honour she deserves for a lifetime of preaching the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and promoting the work of God .















Mammy Dumbuya was the first and only African minister of the gospel invited to the White House  this year  and  honored for her outstanding leadership,  ministry and humanitarian services in Sierra Leone and the international community. She was also the  only religious leader invited from Africa to take part in the White House Caribbean-American Heritage Month 10th Anniversary Briefing.

Mammy Dumbuya was accompanied to the White House by Sierra Leone’s Minister Plenipotentiary to the United Nations and Coordinator of the African Union Committee of 10 on UN Security Council Reform , Rev. Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu , who is also Co-Pastor of the Covenant Child World Ministries of New Jersey . Three other ministers of the gospel who formed part of the entourage that accompanied Mammy Dumbuya to the White House included the Pastor of the Bride of Christ International Ministry of New Jersey, Rev. Emmanuel Sengulay; the  Senior Pastor/[President of the Jesus Christ Church of All Nations, Rev. Abdul Jesus  and the Associate Pastor of the Covenant Child World Mnstries , Pastor Gibrilla Dumbuya . Other members of the delegation included Brother Hassan Iftoni jr and Sisters Massa Ndoeka, Fatmata Conteh , Abibatu Daramamy .

Key White House officials at the occasion included  the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Home Security , Jeh Johnson;  Mr. Elias Alcantara, Associate Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs ; Ms Ashley Allison , Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement;  Luke Tate, Special Assistant to President Obama For Economic Mobility ;  Roy Austin, Deputy Assistant to the President For the Office of Urban Affairs , Justice and Opportunity ; Michael Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs For the My Brothers’ Keeper; Karen Andre,  White House Liaison for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ; Astrid Dorelien , Foreign Affairs Officer at the Deparment of State; Jeffrey Salai , Director for Central America and the Caribbean at the National Security Council; Gonzalez Gallegos , Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy For the Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs , Kalisha Dessources , Staff Assistant for Public Engagement and Intergovernment Affairs , among others.

Mama Dumbuya’s international award was given later in the evening at the International Awards Gala of the Caribbean and African Faith-Based  and Community Leadership Conference at the Howard University in Washington DC.   SEE REPORT :

Mammy Dumbuya also attended the Congressional Legislative Forum last Thursday at the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC.


Zainab honoured with Doctorate degree at Oxford

Sunday, June 28th, 2015


Sierra Leone’s internationally acclaimed Iron Lady Zainab Hawa Bangura has once again brought pride to her countrymen after being honoured with a Honorary Doctorate Degree by one of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious universities – Oxford Brookes University, for her contribution towards upholding human rights, and advancing women’s empowerment.



In her address, Bangura who is the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said: “I would like to convey my warm and sincere gratitude to the University for conferring upon me an honoris causa Doctoral degree in recognition of my contribution to the cause of upholding human rights, and advancing women’s empowerment, even in the war-torn corners of our world.”
Bangura who dedicated her honour to her late mother, whom she described as an ‘extraordinary woman’, brought the jam-packed hall to a complete decorum while narrating her rise to stardom. It was quite an emotional speech.



Hear her: “I wish to dedicate this honor to my late mother, Sama Kanu, an extraordinary rural woman who, even though unlettered, devoted her time and sacrificed her meagre savings, to the last cent, to send her only daughter to school. This was at a time when girls my age, in my home country of Sierra Leone, were more likely to be getting groomed for early marriage, than to be sitting at a desk in school with their male peers.”
She said despite her mother’s limited knowledge of the world beyond her village, she valued education and its empowering and transformative capacity.

“She taught me that education is a “golden key” that not only unlocks doors, but turns walls into windows of opportunity, barriers into bridges, and glass ceilings into clear blue skies. My mother would be overwhelmed and overjoyed to be here with me today, so let me extend this dedication to all the mothers in attendance: you are the unsung heroes of the student experience.”



The United Nations Special Representative said the lessons from her mother have been a source of inspiration and strength in dedicating her life to advocacy on behalf of the most marginalized and vulnerable in society.



She said against the enormous odds of the time and place into which she was born, she had the chance to go to school, to attend university and to represent the Government of Sierra Leone as Minister of Health and as Foreign Minister.
She said in her current role as Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict at the level of Under Secretary General, she works every day to amplify the voices of women on an issue that has been called “history’s greatest silence” and the “world’s least condemned war crime.”



She said experience has shown her that education is both a critical investment and the single most important driver in building a prosperous, healthy and equitable society, adding that studies have revealed that no country has ever achieved sustainable economic growth without attaining a literacy rate of at least 45%.

Giving a brief statistics on education, the former Sierra Leonean Foreign Minister and Minister of Health respectively called on her audience to remember that there is a world out there in which some 774 million young people cannot read and write; 53 percent of the children who drop out of school globally are girls.

She also called on her audience to spare a thought for girls like Malala Yousafzai who have been gunned down merely for going to school; for the three million Syrian children who have no schools to go to; and the hundreds of Nigerian girls abducted from their classrooms with impunity.
“Let us remember that two-thirds of the illiterate people in this world are women – like the women in my own family, just a generation ago,” according to the United Nations strongwoman.

Zainab Hawa Bangura has had a successful career both locally and internationally having served as Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and later as Minister of Health in the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma administration – before resigning to secure her current job.

She was one of the key players who fought vigorously to bring democracy in Sierra Leone as head of the Sierra Leonean Civil Society NGO Campaign for Good Governance as well as many other human and civil rights organisations both locally and internationally.

Zainab remains one of Sierra Leone’s most respectable women and according to Sierra Leone’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Edward Mohamed Turay, who accompanied her to Oxford, “she is a pride to Sierra Leone and her people.”

By Sorie Sudan Sesay, London

A survivor’s Ebola revenge mission

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

Twenty-seven-year-old Bintu Massaquoi was cheerfully narrating how she survived the Ebola virus disease until she was asked how much she missed her husband and her five-year-old child, both killed by the disease. Her mood suddenly changed. She paused, stared into the sky, and squeezed her eyes so tightly that tears flowed uncontrollably.



In a tone laced with anger and pity, she laments: “I will never forget what Ebola did to me.”
Ebola has been ruthless to this folksy and charismatic former athlete with seven national medals. Losing a husband and a child was devastating; having now to raise the remaining three children with little to survive on is salt to her emotional wounds.
But Bintu has been strong and stoic, and now she seeks revenge. “We must defeat Ebola in this fight,” she enthuses, with fists clenched. Bo district, where she resides, has been Ebola-free for more than 100 days, something she considers a partial victory. She hopes there is no recurrence in Bo district and that the virus is not anywhere in the country.

In the Ebola fight, Bintu’s formidable weapon is her testimony. “When I tell people my story — my infection, treatment and discharge from the hospital — they believe me. When I tell them about what to do to avoid Ebola, they understand.”

At motor parks, schools, markets, and around her neighbourhood, Bintu educates people daily on how to avoid Ebola.
Survivors played a critical role in bringing Ebola to an end in Bo district, says Maxwell Kemokai, a coordinator at Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD), a local non-government organization that engages Ebola survivors in response efforts.
Kemokai adds that between February and April 2015, 175 mobilizers, mostly survivors, promoted safe behaviours and explained Ebola by-laws in all of Bo’s 15 chiefdoms.

Under its Quick Impact Projects (QIPs), the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) provided financial incentives to the mobilizers through NMJD.

UNMEER’s funding came at the right time, says Ann Kargbo, Programme Manager, Rehabilitation and Development Agency, Sierra Leone. Like NMJD, RADA was also involved in coordinating survivors’ participation in response work.

Bintu is the Public Relations Officer for the Bo district Ebola Survivors Association. She assists in organizing other survivors to engage in community sensitization.
Bintu’s husband, Mohamed and her son, Henry, died on the same day, on 3 November 2014. Both had gone to Freetown on vacation and stayed with her sister-in-law where Mohamed apparently got infected.
When Mohamed fell sick, he returned to Bo so that his wife could care for him. “I didn’t know a lot about Ebola at that time. I used to take my husband to the toilet and clean his vomit. At the same time, I prepared Henry for school,” recalls Bintu.
She called the emergency number when Mohamed’s and Henry’s conditions worsened. It was too late as they died a few days later. After that, Bintu began having a fever. “I knew it was Ebola and I thought I would die.”
Bintu’s neighbours vehemently refused to let her get in an ambulance. They feared that, like her husband and child, she would never return. “They brought a truckload of policemen and forcefully took me away. My neighbours were weeping, some of them even waved final goodbyes,” she says.
With hindsight, Bintu believes that going to the treatment centre that day saved her life. Her husband and son might have been saved if they had gone to the centre early enough.
The lesson from her situation is at the core of her message to others. “I tell people, if you have a fever or showing any Ebola symptoms, go quickly to the hospital for a check-up. Save yourself!”
Ebola’s horror show during November’s haywire days still haunts Bintu. “I can still remember the day that seven people died right in front of me.”


However, much progress has been made since last November. There is now more awareness about the virus, a lot more treatment facilities than there was last year, and numbers of new cases have dropped significantly.
In the week leading to 23 November 2014, for example, there were 383 new confirmed cases; in the week leading to 17 June 2015, there were just 14 new confirmed cases, underscoring that response efforts have paid dividends.
Despite such progress, Bintu insists there is still more work to do. “Unless the entire Sierra Leone is free of Ebola, no one of us should feel safe,” she says, with practised aplomb.
Bintu hopes to one day establish a hairdressing salon. She rolls eyes, dreamingly, on the prospects of having to do her own business. “I will make money and provide a good life for my children.”
Until then, life is tough, as she depends on small stipends from her social mobilization work. “For now, I just want my kids to eat.” As Bintu talks about her children, she recollects fond memories of her late son. “Henry, Oh Henry!” Once again, tears flowed down her innocent face.

Credit UNMER Public Information Office